Oxted group criticise @SurreyCouncil over FOI on parking

From the Tandridge Mirror today, Oxted group criticise Surrey County Council over Freedom Of Information on parking.

OXTED businesses and residents have criticised the county council’s handling of a Freedom of Information request.

Paul Dashwood, chairman of Oxted Chamber of Commerce, Catherine Sayer from Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group, and Stephen Tee, director of Chanterelle clothes shop had asked for information relating to the attempted introduction of on-street parking charges in Oxted.

Last year, thousands of people opposed plans to introduce parking charges to town centres across the county including Oxted. The county council dropped the plan last autumn.

But last summer, the Oxted group requested the project’s business plan and any e-mails sent within the council which expressed why the plan was a good idea.

Despite numerous follow-up phone calls, Surrey County Council refused to co-operate, claiming the group’s requests were “manifestly unreasonable” due to the costs of processing the requests.

The Oxted group members appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to force the council to provide the requested documents, and the commission ruled in their favour, stating the council’s refusal was not valid and that no “adequate explanation” had been provided for withholding the information.

Speaking on the ICO’s decision, Mr Dashwood said: “The county council’s behaviour was totally obstructive. They treated us with contempt and wouldn’t engage with us in any meaningful way.”

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: “The decision notice requires us to either provide an adequate refusal citing the correct legislation (in this case Environmental Information Regulations 2004) or disclose the requested information. We are working on complying with the Information Commissioner’s requirements.”